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Labour Ministry campaign overlooks employers’ violations, working conditions — rights activists

By Ana V. Ibáñez Prieto - Jun 25,2018 - Last updated at Jun 25,2018

AMMAN — Rights activists on Sunday criticised the Labour Ministry’s campaign against illegal workers for focusing on “status of workers” while ignoring employers’ adherence to the law and working conditions.

A total of 3,975 expatriate workers were deported during the first half of 2018 as a result of the labour inspections carried out in all governorates over the same period, according to a report issued by the Media Directorate of the Ministry of Labour on Sunday. 

Over 2,400 Labour Law violations were recorded by the ministry after the inspections, and a total of 279 closure warnings were issued to the organisations in conflict with the provisions of the Labour Law.

Commenting on the figures, Tamkeen Fields for Aid Director Linda Kalash noted that the ministry did not highlight the number of recruiters and employers that hired the deported employees, criticising that “the labour inspections seem to be focused on the legal status of workers, but not the employers’ adherence to the law and the working conditions”.

Spokesperson at the Ministry of Labour Mohammad Al Khatib pointed out that the number of work permits issued to migrant workers during the same period stood at 192,309, with the newly registered workers distributed across several sectors.

The agricultural sector was the one with the highest number of registered migrant workers with the number standing at 39,635, while majority of expatriate employees (60 per cent) were of Egyptian nationality. 

Concerning labour protests, Khatib noted that the number of labour disputes registered during the first half of the year reached 28, while the ministry’s Labour Relations Department dealt with a total of 5 work strikes. 

Jordan Labour Watch Director Ahmad Awad questioned the reality presented by the figures issued by the ministry, noting that “the government only records the disputes that occur between the registered trade unions and the employers, but not the disputes raised by labour groups or independent unions not recognised by the government”.

In this regard, the activist pointed out that the records of Jordan Labour Watch “revealed that the number of labour disputes is up to three times higher than what the ministry announced,” calling for amendments to the concept of “labour dispute” in Article 2 of the Labour Law in order to include all groups of workers. 

“We also demand the revision of the model of registration of trade unions so as to enable the largest number of workers in Jordan to form their unions freely and in accordance with international labour standards,” Awad added, concluding that “allowing workers to form and register trade unions without discrimination is the key to the improvement of working conditions in Jordan”.

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